Flannel Fabric: Comfortability, Properties and Uses

Flannel has existed since the 17th century and is said to have originated in Wales. In the past, flannel was made with wool, but by the 20th century, it was more commonly made with cotton and sometimes mixed with silk. These days, the softest and most fluffy flannel is made from only cotton.


Flannel is a fantastic choice for chilly weather because it is warm and comfortable to wear. It is woven with patterns, especially plaid and tartan, and is often used to make sheets during the cold.

What is Flannel?

Flannel is a type of plush fabric that can be fuzzy on either side. The fuzzy effect can be obtained by brushing or by applying a loose weave.

The cloth is loosely knitted and made of several soft fibers that are brushed or left unbrushed. The fabric’s characteristic softness comes from brushing it after it is woven(napping). This napping can be done on one or both sides of the flannel fabric to raise fine fibers and make it soft to the touch.

The fabric is believed to have first been produced in Wales. The popularity of plaid declined in the 1990s, and flannel rose in popularity. And as time goes by, the true Welsh meaning of flannel has loosened up. Flannel made with artificial fibers is classified into the same category as the traditional Welsh flannel fabric known to be passed from generation to generation.

Common Flannel Properties

Flannel fabric fulfills a few criteria to be regarded as a popular fabric choice. Such features include;

  • Texture

One or both sides of the flannel fabric are usually brushed. And whether brushed or not, it gives off an iconic look.

  • Softness

Flannel fabric is very soft and cozy, thanks to its soft fibers (wool or cotton), loose weave(plain or twill), or brushed texture used to make it. This is why it’s a common choice for making flannel shirts or sheets.

  • Moisture-wicking

The loose weave of flannel makes it very breathable, making it hard to trap in moisture and easily wick away. Also, wool is a natural fiber used to make wool flannel, so it naturally has moisture-wicking properties.

Flannel Production Process

There are several stages required in the production of flannel:

Firstly, the base material, which can be cotton, wool, or any other synthetic fiber, is obtained. Choosing the type of material used depends on the kind of end product that you desire, and finer fibers like silk are usually unsuitable for flannel production.

The base material is then spun into a loose yarn the same way other fabric yarn is constructed. While some changes may be made in spinning the loose yarn, the most noticeable changes come during the weaving stage.

The fiber is woven using a plain or twill weave, generally using carded yarns to produce the flannel fabric.

The fabric may be napped in a random motion on either one or both sides to help conceal the weave. Napping helps the spun fiber to appear unspun by putting downward pressure on it. The fabric is napped either slightly or in heavy movements until the twill weave is vague. The fiber constituent and degree of napping depend on what the end product will be used for. For example, the flannelette is a lightweight fabric that is napped on only one side, and the sued cloth has a short nap to give it a polished and level surface.

Adding synthetic fiber to the blend will increase its abrasion resistance, making the fabric more durable. This mixed blend also helps prevent stretching for a better fit.

Flannel fabric is finished by treating it with a flame-retardant coating. This will help prevent it from producing toxic flame, especially for textiles that will be constantly used around the home.

Flannel Fabric Throughout History

The term “flannel” is believed to have originated in Wales, but it was in widespread use in France in the form “flannelle” as early as the 17th century. Flannel was occasionally popular among the French and other Europeans, but interest has declined in those areas while usage in Wales has only grown.

Due to the chilly, cloudy climate of the area, these first flannel shirts quickly spread among Welsh farmers and later the rest of the working class.

When grunge musicians started using plaid flannel in their on-stage costumes in the early 1990s, the plaid flannel trend took off and became a mainstay of grunge fashion.

Plaid flannel garments were popular for open-air and camping styles in the 2000s as flannel became a hipster fashion choice. Flannel is now a popular and adaptable fabric used for grungy, outdoor, and fall/winter clothing.

Different Types of Flannel

Flannel T-shirt

Different flannel types are frequently identified by their ties to specific Welsh communities or areas. For example, Llanidloes flannel and Newtown flannel are highly dissimilar, and Welsh flannel variants differ greatly from all other European flannel kinds. Popular flannel types include; 

  • Wool flannel

Wool was traditionally used to make Welsh flannel and most European flannel varieties. Since it was mostly manufactured in India until recent ages, cotton wasn’t nearly as widely used in Europe.

  • Cotton flannel

Cotton flannel became known during the Colonial expansionist period and is still in the limelight because of its soft, rich flannel fibers with napping on both sides. The flannel fabric is usually used to make garments or bedsheets.

  • Synthetic or mixed flannel

Recently, many flannel fabric types have been produced with synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester instead of natural fibers. However, they are more flammable and not beneficial to the environment.

  • Vegetable flannel

Vegetable flannel is made from cellulose but became less popular after petrochemical-based fabrics came into the limelight in the 20th century.

  • Flannelette

This flannel type is woven quite differently from the original flannel, giving it a coarser texture. You can also use any material used to make flannel to make flannelette.

  • Ceylon flannel

This flannel type was initially made in Ceylon, which is currently known as Sri Lanka. It is a mixture of a 50/50 blend of cotton and wool.

What’s The Average Cost of Flannel Per Yard?

Flannel fabric can be purchased at a price range of $5-30. However, the price of flannel varies depending on several factors.

While some flannel producers may take their time in producing quality weaves, some other producers mass-produce cheap bolts of inferior fabric. High-quality flannel textile is typically produced by businesses emphasizing durability and pure, organic materials.

When looking for the best flannel material, especially sheets and bedding, go for options made with pure cotton flannel. Natural fiber gives off good insulation and durability than synthetic flannels. The weight and finish of flannel fabric are other factors to consider when purchasing quality flannel fabric.

Common Flannel Fabric Applications

Flannel fabric is utilized in several applications, which include; 

  • Apparel

Flannel is a staple fabric for fall and winter clothing because of its coziness and tenderness. While plaid flannel button-down shirts are unquestionably the most common flannel apparel item, you can also find flannel pants and outerwear like jackets and coats. 

It should come as no surprise that incredibly soft flannel is a natural fit for pajama shirts and bottoms, as good pajamas prioritize comfort over all other considerations.

  • Accessories

Flannel can sometimes be used to make bags, belts, purses, etc., and are usually made using a plaid pattern. 

  • Homeware

Numerous home furnishings and decor items have flannel napping because of its connection to plaid. Due to their increased softness, ability to wick away moisture, and a general feeling of comfort, flannel sheets are very popular among customers.

The fabric is also a common choice for bedsheets, blankets, etc., because of its soft woven fabric. It is also a common quilting fabric among quilters.

  • Camping gear

Flannel is a well-liked outdoor textile for leisure and camping wear, from flannel shirts to jackets, since it is cozy, warm, and moisture-wicking. Flannel is frequently used in shirts, sweaters, cardigans, and other cool-layered clothing. 

Flannel Warmth and Comfortability

Flannel is known for being warm. Flannel is a soft, brushed fabric that is typically made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers. The soft, fuzzy surface of flannel creates an insulating layer of air, which helps to trap heat and keep you warm.

Flannel is often used for winter clothing and bedding, as it is known for its warmth and coziness. However, the exact warmth of flannel can vary depending on factors such as the type of fiber used, the weight of the fabric, and the thickness of the nap.

Tips For Maintaining Flannel Fabrics

One favorite feature of flannel is its ability to get softer with use, making it a low-maintenance fabric that doesn’t require frequent dry cleaning, ironing, or replacement.

You should follow the steps below to adequately maintain flannel fabrics to ensure they remain luxurious looking and durable. 

These care tips include.

  • Flannel fabric will wash better and not retain odors if your clothing or bedding is made entirely of cotton, making it much simpler to care for.
  • Flannel is simple to maintain and wash. It’s preferable to wash the fabric in cold water and dry it on low heat.
  • Flannel, a knit fabric, resists wrinkles well. So it might not require frequent ironing. 
  • The flannel fabric is a loose weave, which stretches when machine-sewed and may greatly shrink while washing over time. This is why it is advisable to pre-wash and shrink your flannel fabric before sewing.
  • Like any other fabric, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions before and while washing the fabric. 
  • Ensure you store your flannel shirts and dresses in cool areas free of moisture. Due to the fabric’s constitution, it might be moisture-absorbent. 

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